This book provides a comprehensive account of the cultural history of English drama. Drawing upon new empirical research and the latest theoretical models, Shepherd and Womack show how the character of a given theatrical 'age', as traditionally described, is packed with contradictions and uneven in development. Focusing on key historical moments and modes, they offer chapters on Medieval Theatre, Renaissance Drama, Restoration Comedy, Melodrama, and Naturalism, and conclude with accounts of post-War British Theatre and the State, and Drama in the Age of Television. For each of the main topics chosen, there are two chapters. The first in each pair tells how the drama of a particular era or kind was produced, describing its cultural context and explaining how contemporary conditions and practices of dramatic production changed. The second chapter in each pair relates how the drama concerned has been reproduced or reinterpreted through history, revealing the dramatic effects and cultural functions of these processes. In this way the student is given two complete and distinct narrative accounts, to be read together or independently, according to study needs.